Lifeline for Gonarezhou smallholder farmers

GONAREZHOU Conservation Trust

GONAREZHOU Conservation Trust (GCT) has partnered local chilli firm Kacholo Chili Company (KCC) to help 216 smallholder farmers affected by wildlife around the Gonarezhou National Park (GNP) in the southeastern part of Zimbabwe to generate income as a mitigatory measure.

GCT is a partnership between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the,Frankfurt Zoological Society an international conservation organisation based in Germany.

The initiative by GCT is being implemented as a result of increased wildlife attacks on livestock of communities in the Gonarezhou area that have cost them thousands of dollars in annual economic value. 

“After running around we discovered that there is a company by the name Kacholo Chili Company that is doing a chilli out-growers scheme in the Zaka area and part of Maware in Chiredzi. So, we decided to pay a scouting visit to Kacholo, to the Zaka area, to see how they are doing it,” GCT spokesperson Hebert Phikela told NewsDay Farming during a three day-visit to GNP that began on Monday.

“Actually, our focus was on human/elephant mitigation strategies, and then we realised that chilli is actually a good cash crop that can be tried in this particular landscape, so we brought Kacholo here. We facilitated the introduction of chilli farming. We were targeting elephant crop raiding hotspots, but the way we wanted to introduce this particular project was to empower those who are able to do chilli farming on their own.”

 He said after their baseline survey, Kacholo decided to invest in this particular community.

“Kacholo also donated chilli for chilli brick moulding so that is one of the benefits from the Gonarezhou side. So what happened was we registered the farmers who were willing to do chilling farming, we engaged them, we workshopped them, we convinced them that this is one of the best projects and  did a trial with 216 farmers and it turned out to be a livelihood project immediately,” he revealed.

Speaking to several farmers in the area, NewsDay Farming learnt that these farmers are earning about US$300 to US$400 a month because chilli can be grown throughout the year.

The type of chilli used takes about three months for the plant to mature before farmers can harvest, which is done over a period of a year before needing new chilli plants.

Farmers said apart from the seeds, Kacholo also provides the inputs needed such as fertiliser and supports these farmers drill boreholes and wells to irrigate their crops.

Kacholo was set up in 2018 to assist Nandos (a chicken fast-food subsidiary of Simbisa Brands Limited) as the Zimbabwean farming partner to their Peri Farms Division.

Kacholo says farmers are guaranteed the purchase of their crop, at a competitive price set at the beginning of each season.

NewsDay Farming understands that farmers are getting paid in local currency at higher forex rates than the official ones and will soon be paid 60% of their incomes in United States dollars.

The company has over 1 000 small-scale farmers growing the chilli crop.

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